Answers To All Your Mobile Questions [Interview]

Lindsey LaManna

woman using mobile phone at workAs the use and development of mobile devices and applications in the business world continues to rapidly expand, almost every company, large or small, is considering how to they can take advantage of expanding mobile technology.

More and more companies are recognizing the power of mobility to increase workers’ productivity and enable them to respond quickly to market changes and opportunities as they arise.

To learn more about how mobile is enabling businesses to run like never before, I interviewed Randy Sell, Director of Solution Engineering at SAP.  Randy manages a team of solution engineers that provide product demos and technical support for SAP’s mobility products.  With his extensive expertise in business and technology, specializing in mobility, he was able to provide some valuable insight into how mobile is transforming the workplace.

1) So your career has spanned over 5 decades.  What are some of the biggest technology changes that you’ve seen during that time?

Wow, I feel ancient when you put it in those terms.  When I look back, I see technology enabling me to be far more productive and having more freedom to work outside the office.  Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the only computer access we had were terminals tied to the mainframe computer.  When you logged off at night, you lost access to your business data until you arrived at work the next morning.

During the 1990’s I was given a laptop (a 40 pound IBM huggable luggable) and then a mobile phone with voicemail, which began to expand my access to business data when not in the office.  I started working from a home office during the 1990’s, which gave me more time with my young family.  By far the biggest change has come in the past few years, with the explosion of mobile technology, faster internet access and apps.

2) Expand on that a bit.  What benefits does mobility have from a business perspective?

It’s all about speed and ease of use.  Work activities that used to take 10-15 minutes can now be done very simply in a few minutes.  Information is shared and received instantly through email or text.  With mobility, you don’t have to shut down once you leave the office – you become easier to reach.

That allows me to get more done in less time, be more responsive, leaving more time for a personal life.  The challenge is deciding when to turn off your mobile device and stop working.  This becomes especially difficult at times in the year when you feel you have to be available 24/7.

Mobile applications with analytic capabilities also provide tremendous benefits by giving workers access to data in real time.  As a manager I can use sales apps to see what the sales pipeline looks like in real-time. This information wasn’t available to me up until recently. Now I have access to current data on an iPad to view anywhere.

3) Do these benefits apply to only large enterprises or can small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) take advantage of mobile technology as well?  What are the implications and benefits of mobile for SMEs?

I previously worked in a small company with only 70 employees and I can tell you that their desire to get to information quickly is no different than larger companies.  Fast access to data has benefits for any size company.   Every business has the same need to make better decisions and values personal time for employees just as much.

Larger companies in some ways actually are faced with more challenges than a SME. They typically have the difficulty of dealing with multi(s), (multi-language, multi-plant, multi-currencies), while SME companies do not.

4) What about from an industry perspective? Is mobile having a larger impact on certain industries?

Industries that have service technicians, especially on the road, and remote sales employees benefit the most from mobility.  Industries where everyone is working in the office may not have as critical of a need for mobility.

5) Mobile has been sparking some big changes in the retail industry.  Can you comment on that?

As a consumer, I see the world of retail making some radical changes in order to make it faster and easier and to conduct business.

For example, cash registers are being replaced by mobile devices that can process transactions instantly anywhere.  Using mobile technology, like Square Up, allows you to swipe a credit card on your smartphone or tablet and email a receipt to the purchaser.  Mobile technology is impacting both consumers and businesses, and I’m certain that it will have a larger and larger impact over time.

6) Can you give us an example or two of how technology and apps helps you save time?

Sure. Two come to mind off the top of my head.

Time and Expense reports used to be a 100% manual exercise.  We moved to completing expense reports by scanning receipts and attaching them to electronic expense reports, which actually took longer to finish than manually writing reports and mailing in receipts.  Now, I take pictures of all my receipts and complete my expense reports using an Expense App, before I ever get home.  That saves about 30-45 minutes for each trip.

The other big winner has been the use of mobile workflow.  From approving vacations to approving PO’s, everything is so much faster today.  As a manager I can respond much quicker to my team with mobile workflow solutions in place.  It’s hard to remember operating like we did in the “old days”.

7) Many businesses are still hesitant to adopt a mobile strategy.  What are the risks associated with increased mobility and how can you mitigate them?

People in many businesses are risk averse and tend to be laggards for adopting new technology.  Certain industries tend to be slow to adopt changes for a number of reasons including a fear that mobility will compromise data security.  The medical industry comes to mind.  Medical had been an industry still keeping virtually all paper medical records until recently.

Businesses and institutions are becoming more comfortable and confident with data residing outside of their firewalls.  The mobility wave has arrived, and there is really no going back.  Sometimes it takes a new employee with a fresh perspective to question the status quo. Businesses get stuck in old habits and need to be convinced to invest in new technologies.

8) From your perspective, Randy, what mobile technology trends do you see on the horizon?

While it is difficult to project too far into the future, several changes are beginning to impact how I do my job.  First is the move to real-time access to large amounts of data.  Information that used to be run through a data warehouse and put on a weekly report for me is now available through mobile devices in near real-time.  This type of access will allow me to make better decisions faster.

The other trend I am seeing is the move from portable computers to portable tablet devices.  As tablets become more robust, I see the day coming soon when I won’t even need a PC.  All the data I need will be housed somewhere on a cloud, and accessed from my phone or tablet at lightning speed.  How the world of work has changed since the 1970’s.  I am very excited to be a part of the future of technology.

For more information about mobility is enabling employees to become more productive at their jobs by using mobile technology, take a look at this short video.

Randy Sell

Randy Sell is the Director of Solution Engineering at SAP, managing a team of solution engineers that provide product demos and technical support for SAP’s mobility products. He has been a solution engineer for over 18 years now and also has 15 years of experience in supply chain management. His career started in 1979 as a Production Control Analyst.


About Lindsey LaManna

Lindsey LaManna is Social and Reporting Manager for the Digitalist Magazine by SAP Global Marketing. Follow @LindseyLaManna on Twitter, on LinkedIn or Google+.



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13 Scary Statistics On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Jacob Shriar

There is a serious problem with the way we work.

Most employees are disengaged and not passionate about the work they do. This is costing companies a ton of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. It’s also harmful to employees, because they’re more stressed out than ever.

The thing that bothers me the most about it, is that it’s all so easy to fix. I can’t figure out why managers aren’t more proactive about this. Besides the human element of caring for our employees, it’s costing them money, so they should care more about fixing it. Something as simple as saying thank you to your employees can have a huge effect on their engagement, not to mention it’s good for your level of happiness.

The infographic that we put together has some pretty shocking statistics in it, but there are a few common themes. Employees feel overworked, overwhelmed, and they don’t like what they do. Companies are noticing it, with 75% of them saying they can’t attract the right talent, and 83% of them feeling that their employer brand isn’t compelling. Companies that want to fix this need to be smart, and patient. This doesn’t happen overnight, but like I mentioned, it’s easy to do. Being patient might be the hardest thing for companies, and I understand how frustrating it can be not to see results right away, but it’s important that you invest in this, because the ROI of employee engagement is huge.

Here are 4 simple (and free) things you can do to get that passion back into employees. These are all based on research from Deloitte.

1.  Encourage side projects

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload. Let them explore their own passions and interests, and work on side projects. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to be related to the company, but if you’re worried about them wasting time, you can set that boundary that it has to be related to the company. What this does, is give them autonomy, and let them improve on their skills (mastery), two of the biggest motivators for work.

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload.

2.  Encourage workers to engage with customers

At Wistia, a video hosting company, they make everyone in the company do customer support during their onboarding, and they often rotate people into customer support. When I asked Chris, their CEO, why they do this, he mentioned to me that it’s so every single person in the company understands how their customers are using their product. What pains they’re having, what they like about it, it gets everyone on the same page. It keeps all employees in the loop, and can really motivate you to work when you’re talking directly with customers.

3.  Encourage workers to work cross-functionally

Both Apple and Google have created common areas in their offices, specifically and strategically located, so that different workers that don’t normally interact with each other can have a chance to chat.

This isn’t a coincidence. It’s meant for that collaborative learning, and building those relationships with your colleagues.

4.  Encourage networking in their industry

This is similar to number 2 on the list, but it’s important for employees to grow and learn more about what they do. It helps them build that passion for their industry. It’s important to go to networking events, and encourage your employees to participate in these things. Websites like Eventbrite or Meetup have lots of great resources, and most of the events on there are free.

13 Disturbing Facts About Employee Engagement [Infographic]

What do you do to increase employee engagement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up here and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

This infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee survey tool that helps companies improve their corporate wellness, and have a better organizational culture.


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Supply Chain Fraud: The Threat from Within

Lindsey LaManna

Supply chain fraud – whether perpetrated by suppliers, subcontractors, employees, or some combination of those – can take many forms. Among the most common are:

  • Falsified labor
  • Inflated bills or expense accounts
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Phantom vendor accounts or invoices
  • Bid rigging
  • Grey markets (counterfeit or knockoff products)
  • Failure to meet specifications (resulting in substandard or dangerous goods)
  • Unauthorized disbursements

LSAP_Smart Supply Chains_graphics_briefook inside

Perhaps the most damaging sources of supply chain fraud are internal, especially collusion between an employee and a supplier. Such partnerships help fraudsters evade independent checks and other controls, enabling them to steal larger amounts. The median loss from fraud committed
by a single thief was US$80,000, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Costs increase along with the number of perpetrators involved. Fraud involving two thieves had a median loss of US$200,000; fraud involving three people had a median loss of US$355,000; and fraud with four or more had a median loss of more than US$500,000, according to ACFE.

Build a culture to fight fraud

The most effective method to fight internal supply chain theft is to create a culture dedicated to fighting it. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Make sure the board and C-level executives understand the critical nature of the supply chain and the risk of fraud throughout the procurement lifecycle.
  • Market the organization’s supply chain policies internally and among contractors.
  • Institute policies that prohibit conflicts of interest, and cross-check employee and supplier data to uncover potential conflicts.
  • Define the rules for accepting gifts from suppliers and insist that all gifts be documented.
  • Require two employees to sign off on any proposed changes to suppliers.
  • Watch for staff defections to suppliers, and pay close attention to any supplier that has recently poached an employee.

About Lindsey LaManna

Lindsey LaManna is Social and Reporting Manager for the Digitalist Magazine by SAP Global Marketing. Follow @LindseyLaManna on Twitter, on LinkedIn or Google+.


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Why New Technology Has An Adoption Problem

Danielle Beurteaux

When 3D printing became a practical reality, in the sense that the actual printers became more efficient, less expensive, and more accessible to the average consumer, there was an assumption that the consumer 3D printing market was going to take off. We’d all have printers at home printing…. what? Our clothes? Toys? Spare organs?

That has yet to happen. 3D printing company MakerBot just went through its second employee layoff this year, driven by a market that’s developing much slower than predicted.

That same thinking is in play with a somewhat more prosaic technology – digital wallets. Apple Pay was released this year, as was Samsung Pay. There’s also Google’s Android Pay. During an earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: “We are more confident than ever that 2015 will be the year of Apple Pay.” But that expectation has yet to be realized, at least vis-à-vis consumers.

Consumers aren’t using any of the digital wallets en masse. According to Bloomberg, payments made via mobile wallets – all of them – make up a mere 1% of retail purchases in the U.S. The reason is that consumers just don’t see a compelling reason to use them. There’s no real reward for them to change from SOP.

Both these instances highlight a problem with assumptions about mass adoption for new technology – just because it’s cool, interesting, and accessible doesn’t mean a market-worthy mass of people will use it.

Who is more likely to use mobile wallets? Emerging economies without a stable financial and banking systems. In those environments, digital payments present a more secure and quicker method for purchasing. These are the same areas where mobile adoption leapfrogged older technologies because there was a lack of telecommunications infrastructure, i.e. many never had a landline phone to begin with, and they went directly to mobile. The value-add already exists. (But there are also security issues, to which consumers are becoming more sensitive. A hack of Samsung’s U.S. subsidiary LoopPay network was uncovered five months post-hack. Although one was expert quoted as saying the hackers may not have been interested in selling consumer financial info but instead in tracking individuals.)

Here’s some interesting data and a good point made: mobile payments are most popular in situations where the buyer already has his or her phone in hand and the transaction is made even quicker than swiping plastic. For example, purchases made for London Transit rides are responsible for a good portion of the U.K.’s mobile payments.

Mass technology adoption is no longer driven simply by the release of a new product. There are too many products released constantly now, the market is too diverse, and the products often lack a true raison d’être.

Learn more about how creative and innovative companies are finding their customers. Read Compelling Shopping Moments: 4 Creative Ways Stores Connect With Their Customers.


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Create A Culture That Doesn’t Fear Failure

JP George

A fear of failure could be holding back your business.

If the people on your team are worrying about being ridiculed or blamed for independent creativity or the downfall of an entire project, they are likely to hold back their ideas and stick to completing projects in the same way over and over again. In comparison, people who work in an office culture with no fear of failure feel free to bounce ideas around, which helps generate new practices, keep up with the times, push projects along, and can “wow” customers with innovation.

Changing the way your office works won’t happen overnight, but these five tips could begin to implement positive changes to help steer your team toward a working environment that is good for the staff and good for the business.

1. Recognize and reward

Employee recognition is the key to not fearing failure. When an employee or team member goes above and beyond; make sure they know that their hard work is appreciated and that an efficient system for providing employee recognition awards is in place. Even small things like suggesting a new way to carry out a particular process should be celebrated. If an employee, colleague, or team member has a suggestion that isn’t quite on-point, find the positive; for example, you might say, “You’re on the right lines, your idea will help speed the process up, but…” Always make sure to offer positive feedback first, then mention the thing that needs changing, and end with encouragement: “Once that’s ironed out, we can implement this — great work!”

2. Adopt a team mentality

Seems straightforward and fairly obvious for a first step, but so many companies do not know how to really generate a feeling of teamwork and inclusivity, and instead put up a front of “togetherness” while retaining the bad practices that divide a workforce. Start by calling a team meeting and setting some ground rules together. Yes, it’s a basic ice-breaking activity in almost all training sessions, but it also helps each person to display respect and hear the opinions of other members of the group. Suggest from the start that the team use “we” rather than individual pronouns when discussing projects, as it helps to dispel blame culture and reminds each person that they are all responsible for any successes and downfalls of the team.

3. Say “yes” more

When staff members and colleagues approach you with ideas and innovation, are you more likely to think “straying from the status quo is dangerous,” or are you willing to hear the person out and let their creative juices flow? Even if the first suggestion they offer is horrible, try not to say “no” outright or make the person feel bad for sharing. Try to find a way in which their idea can be incorporated, even if it has to be altered to fit the project. Saying “yes” to the inspiration and thoughts generated by staff and colleagues means that they will be likely to offer more ideas in the future, and without that openness, you might miss the next great innovation in your industry.

4. Blame less

Similarly, try to incorporate policies that encourage employee recognition rather than shame for sharing concepts. If failure does occur, do not publicly belittle the person deemed responsible, even in jest. This creates tension within the office or team and can make the person receiving the blame less likely to contribute in the future, and may even affect their personal well-being. Instead of blaming and shaming, discuss what went wrong as a group, and try to enforce the group mentality of “we could have done…” rather than “I/they/she/he did…”

5. Look for the positives

If, for any reason, your team does experience failure—and you should, otherwise you’re just not aiming high enough—try to see the positives, and discuss the issue as a group — not in cliques of us vs. them, but together discuss what the group could have done better. If a majority insist on blaming one or two people, move onto analyzing how communication channels could be opened up and ask members how inclusivity could be improved. After all, if only a few people are responsible for a project failing, the responsibility was obviously not being shared in an equal manner while the project was underway. There are positives to every situation, even if it is just the ability to improve your team dynamic.

The changes won’t happen immediately, but once the systems are in place and your staff, colleagues, and team members start to understand the goals within both the office and working environment as a whole, your employees’ creativity should start flowing and you will start hearing new suggestions regularly. Even if some don’t work well, remember to recognize employees and enjoy the rewards of your newly open and trusting workforce.

Want more employee engagement tips? See Boost Productivity With These 4 Brain Breaks.


About JP George

JP George grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master's degree in Public Relations, JP has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.

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